By Paul Gotham
Scanning the schedule for the five most important games of the week in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball.
Wednesday: Dayton (3-0) at Georgia Tech (3-0)
The UD Flyers hold a 2-0 advantage in head-to-head contests with Georgia Tech. The last time the Flyers beat the Ramblin’ Wreck (11/19/09) current Tech coach, Brian Gregory roamed the UD sidelines. Now, Archie Miller is in his third year with UD, and the Flyers are eyeing their first trip to the Dance since 2009. Dayton has won their last four meetings against ACC schools.
Players to watch: Transfers Vee Sanford (Georgetown) and Jordan Siebert (Ohio State) lead UD’s perimeter attack. Dyshawn Pierre, a 6-6 sophomore swingman from Whitby, Ontario pacess the Flyers with 15 points per game.
Georgia Tech has outrebounded opponents by 8. 7 boards per game.
Thursday: UMass (3-0) vs. Nebraska (3-0)
With wins already over LSU and Boston College, UMass will look to dispatch their third school from a power conference when they open the Charleston Classic against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Tournament Implications: The Minutemen last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1998. If Derek Kellogg is to take his alma mater back to the dance, Chaz Williams will lead the way. The 5-9 point guard turns the basketball court into his own version of a plinko board (defenders have no idea in which direction he will cut with the ball). The emergence of Sampson Carter gives UMass another scoring option.
Ray Gallegos heads five Cornhuskers averaging double digits.
VCU (3-0) vs. Florida State (3-0)
Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams celebrate the program’s first ever Top 10 ranking with a clash against the ACC’s Florida State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. VCU already went into Charlottesville and trimmed the then #25 Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC.
Tournament implications: VCU making the NCAA Tournament is not the question. Seeding is. Taking down another ACC team can only help the Rams chances of our a top four seed. Not to mention a win in this game helps conference ranking.
Players to watch: Briante Weber is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the land and the reason why VCU can inflict HAVOC. Junior Treveon Graham leads the Rams with 16 points and six. And don’t you know? You don’t want to go to war with the Rams!
Okaro White leads four Seminoles in double figures.
Saturday: Richmond (2-1) vs. North Carolina (2-1)
Richmond’s Spiders will get a chance to add to Carolina’s blues. The Tar Heels are reeling after their 83-80 loss to Belmont (not to mention the close call with Holy Cross). And oh, by the way, Richmond dumped Belmont on November 11th, 69-61. Richmond’s match-up zone will expose UNC’s lack of a point guard.
Tournament implications: The Spiders will need to bolster their resume to have even the slightest chance of making the tournament.
George Mason (3-3) at Iona(1-1)
George Mason’s Patriots will look to keep the Gaels of Iona out of their New York Groove when they travel to New Rochelle. The Gaels have made the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years. The Patriots are making the transition from the Colonial Athletic to Atlantic 10.
Tournament Implications: George Mason has plenty of opportunities to build their resume with tough out-of-conference games coming in December against Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Players to watch: Sherrod Wright leads a George Mason lineup which includes four seniors and four juniors.
Iona’s David Laury is an NBA talent. The big man can score with either hand in traffic.